Orphaned Bird Care
For birds, there is an increased
risk of aspiration pneumonia because the opening to their airway (called
the "glottis") is located at the base of their
tongue. NEVER put any liquid inside the bird's mouth. The best method
for providing a source of hydration is by using thin slivers of peeled
grapes. The fruit must not contain any peel, because certain species of
birds may not be able to digest them. Fruits that contain a low acidity
level and are high in water content are best: grapes, watermelon, plums,
etc. Tiny slivers of boiled eggs are also acceptable, but the moisture
content is low and should be alternated with slivers of peeled grapes.
This should be repeated every 30 minutes until the bird can be transported
to a wildlife rehabilitator. Each piece should be placed at the rear of
the bird's right side of the mouth. Pay careful attention to ensure that
you go above and behind the glottis.
Do not provide insects, worms, soaked dog food, or any other form of solids unless you have spoken with a wildlife rehabilitator and have been instructed to do so. Remember that a source of hydration is most important, and unless a rehabilitator has instructed you to feed solids to the baby it could prove fatal. There is no "one-size-fits-all" substitute diet for birds. A rehabilitator must first identify the species to determine the protein/calcium/etc. requirements of that particular species and then formulate a diet to match those requirements.
Note: Mourning doves and pigeons will not open their beaks for feedings. Instead, they will lift their heads, make a "weeping" sound and prod their beak around in search of a parent's beak to pry open. These babies must be fed by an experienced rehabilitator.